Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Japanese megabank, BlackBerry 10, Fed wisdom, murderous cats

January 29, 2013
January 29, 2013

What to watch for today

Sumitomo Mitsui expects bumper results. Japan’s second-largest bank may see a net income of ¥500 billion ($5.5 billion) when it reports earnings for the final nine months of 2012, exceeding the same numbers from last year by almost 20%. Stocks of the bank closed 5.1% higher ahead of the release.

Boeing under more scrutiny—from investors this time. Executives will have to take hard questions from investors when the company reports earnings tomorrow. Its new Dreamliner aircraft remain grounded and under investigation for mechanical problems, and it’s still not clear when problems related to the plane’s lithium-ion batteries will be resolved. Today’s conference call will offer a great chance to look for more clues.

The BlackBerry 10 is unveiled, no surprises expected. After months of leaks, Research in Motion is expected to formally show off its attempt to enter the high-end smartphone market. Cue renewed debate about whether the company is in terminal decline: Some say no, while we say yes.

The Fed hands down its latest vision on monetary easing. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) to continue its current, unlimited asset-buying program, the third round of “quantitative easing,” in its attempts to stimulate the economy. But we won’t know until Feb. 20, when minutes of the meeting are released, whether any FOMC members repeated the worries about the side effects of ultra-low interest rates that they aired at the December meeting.

Investors cross their fingers on Facebook. The social media giant reports earnings at 5pm New York time (6am HKT on Jan. 31). Shares of FB have climbed more than 60% since September, but are still well below their IPO price, and whether the firm can make money off its mobile applications and its newly announced Graph Search remains to be seen.

While you were sleeping

At least 65 corpses were found in a Syrian river. Opposition activists said they found 65 bodies in a river in Aleppo. According to reports, the victims were mostly 20- to 30-year-old men who appeared to have been killed execution-style, with gunshots to the head and hands tied behind their backs. This suggested that more bodies could be found.

Amazon continues to consider profits a secondary goal. Shares of AMZN jumped nearly 10% in after-hours trading, even though the company didn’t meet analysts’ expectations. The online retailer saw net sales increase by 22% in the fourth quarter, and managed to avoid losing money on its operating expenses, instead turning a $97 million operating profit—a mere 0.45% of revenue.

Ford prepares to lose $2 billion in Europe. Although the company reported its best fourth quarter in almost a decade, soundly beating investors’ estimates, CFO Bob Shanks warned that the company will lose $2 billion in Europe this year. That follows a 2012 loss of $1.73 billion, when car sales tanked in the region. What’s more, the company said it wouldn’t be able to increase margins in its North American business. Shares of Ford fell almost 5% in US trading.

Quartz obsession interlude

David Yanofsky on why you should stop treating your cell phone like a pocket watch: “We have been so distracted by all of the features of smart phones that we failed to notice the absurdity of the way we use them. If anything, usage of the quintessential 21st century technology is more reminiscent of a distinctively obsolete 19th century device: the pocket watch. Perhaps, not for much longer.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Fed is killing the US economy. The ultra-low interest-rate policies designed to stimulate the economy are actually standing in its way by creating the wrong incentives for businesses and individuals.

Headwinds for the EU financial sector? The worst may seem to be over, but uncertain progress on an EU banking supervisor and a lack of shorter-term bank recapitalizations leave the financial system at risk.

The Chinese government is a prisoner of its own propaganda. The country’s leaders once used anti-Japan sentiment to hold the country together. Have their plans backfired?

Surprising discoveries

Murderous cats. Researchers found that cats in the US—both domesticated and feral—kill 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals per year.

The pill didn’t cause the sexual revolution. Penicillin did, says Emory University economist Andrew Francis.

26 Apple designs that didn’t make it. A historical look back at some of the iconic products you were destined never to have.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cat murder reports and pocket-watch rants to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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